The moment when you pop in to check on your kids before you go to bed is a sacred time. No matter if they were the sweetest children in the world that day or real stinkers, watching your babies sleep – well, there’s just nothing like it.
Unfortunately, those tender few moments could be interrupted by tiny little snores coming from their open mouths while they dream. Sometimes snoring can seem endearing because it’s a grown-up sound coming from such a tiny body, but snoring could be a sign of something bigger. Intermittent and short-term episodes with snoring aren’t usually a cause for alarm, but if it’s constant or severe, you should prepare to talk with your child’s pediatrician.
What is making my kid snore?
The reasons behind snoring in children are as varied as the children themselves, and the causes can shift over time. You may be able to find a pattern in your child’s snoring if you start looking at the environmental factors surrounding the snoring episodes. Typically, one or more of the following reasons can cause snoring in children:
- Seasonal Allergies
- Standard Allergies
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
- Genetic Disorders (example: Down Syndrome)
- Obstructed Nasal Passages (example: deviated septum)
- Craniofacial Disorders (example: cleft lip/palate)
- Enlarged Adenoids
- Poor Bedtime Routine
What problems could come from snoring?
Most of the time, snoring in children isn’t serious and won’t have long-term effects; however, you should be concerned if your child is:
- Snoring loudly
- Gasping during the night
- Snoring more than three nights per week
- Consistently sleeping with her mouth open
The tricky thing is that it can be hard to catch snoring because it happens when everyone is sleeping – including you! If you haven’t seen your child snoring yet, but you have noticed some puzzling behavior during the day, your child could have some snoring-related sleep issues.
Poor sleep leads to all kinds of behavior problems during the daytime. Some daytime indicators include increased crabbiness, headaches, frequent daydreaming, inattention, sleepiness, sudden recurrence of bedwetting, and acting overly tired. If you notice these problems popping up more frequently and you can’t seem to pinpoint another cause, you might want to start paying more attention to your child’s nighttime hours.
The long-term effects of snoring-related sleep problems can be pretty serious, so you should visit your child’s pediatrician as soon as you notice a consistent problem. For instance, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a serious condition where the child doesn’t get enough air during sleep, can cause stunted growth, developmental and cognitive delays, problems with metabolism, and increased risk of heart disease if left unchecked. Most other sleep issues related to snoring aren’t quite as drastic, but they still can cause unnecessary strain and tiredness for your child during the day.
How can I help my child with snoring?
Before you head to the pediatrician, spend a couple of weeks recording your observations on the frequency, duration, and severity of your child’s snoring. Your child’s pediatrician will know what to do with that information and check if the snoring is serious or benign. Depending on the cause of snoring, your child’s pediatrician may recommend one or more of the following:
- Allergy Medication: Allergy medication – whether for seasonal or consistent allergies – can help reduce the inflammation in the nasal passages that causes snoring.
- Sleep Study: A sleep study can be done at home or a doctor’s office, depending on your insurance, where you live, and how old your child is. During the sleep study, the technicians will attach electrodes to monitor your child’s vitals while sleeping. This data will help your child’s doctor determine if OSA is the cause of snoring or something else.
- Referral to a Specialist: An Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist has special tools to help diagnose obstruction of the airways. An ENT might recommend surgery to help improve the nasal passages or remove adenoids that are causing snoring.
- PAP Device: Your child’s doctor might recommend a Positive Air Pressure (PAP) device for your child. This device keeps constant pressure through the airways to help keep them open. It is often recommended as part of an OSA diagnosis.
- Diet and Exercise Plan: Obesity can cause the air passages to narrow, resulting in snoring. If that is the reason for your child’s snoring, your child’s doctor may suggest a change in diet and exercise routines to achieve a healthy weight.
- Air Purifier: Sometimes allergens in the air are the main cause of snoring during sleep, so the solution could be as simple as investing in a good-quality air purifier.
- Improved Bedtime Routine: If your child won’t sleep through the night because of snoring problems, your child’s doctor might suggest that you modify the bedtime routine. Keeping the room dark, using a sound machine, and limiting exercise and screen time before bed can help your child sleep faster and better, thereby reducing snoring.
If you find that your child needs some sleep help because snoring is interfering with a good night’s sleep, be sure to contact your child’s pediatrician right away. They will point you in the right direction to finding a solution to help everyone get a better night’s sleep.